Gris is fading away again.
After watching Heller go shopping that morning, he ceases to exist until evening, when he catches a "59 ½ Minutes Too Late" interview with the fake Whiz Kid, surrounded by textbooks, wearing a college beanie, and waving a school pennant. The fake tells his life story, how he had a revelation when a book fell off a shelf onto his head, won a soapbox derby by secretly having a neighbor inside the car pedaling it, and blew up his house after studying Carl Fagin's Homecraft Series: You Too Can Make an Atom Bomb in Your Own Little Basement Workshop, or, A Visit to the Graves of the Mighty Men of History. There is a picture of Albert Blindstein on the cover.
Just... why? What's the point of this? How is changing "Einstein" to "Blindstein" satire? What is the reader supposed to get out of this? There's no insight or cutting commentary to be found here, and if it's humorous I guess I'm in the wrong mood for it. It's just perplexing and annoying, and suggests that the story takes place in a parallel universe where certain famous figures were given profoundly stupid names.
Except two books ago Miss Simmons sarcastically called Heller "Einstein," so he DID exist in this setting! So who the hell is "Blindstein?!"
This is a terrible book. And it's only going to get worse.
The fake Whiz Kid produces yearbook after yearbook showing his mug in various class photos. But the name listed by it is Gerry Wister, not Jerome Terrance Wister. Gris freaks out about Madison making a mistake, until he reasons that when Mr. Bury came up with the Jerome Wister identity he must have had a double as a back-up plan. But then he goes back to freaking out the next morning, when he reads the newspapers. The headline is of the (fake) Whiz Kid suing his university (the one that Heller isn't attending). So Gris is torn between enjoying more negative Heller publicity and the possibility that the fake Whiz Kid might win a $500 million lawsuit.
What does Gris do for the rest of the day? Who knows? Who cares? The author sure doesn't. Instead we skip to the next morning's front page story about the university's counterattack and riots at the campus. Gris is encouraged that the opinion pages seem to be favoring the university, to say nothing of the pictures of students killed in clashes with police.
And none of it matters. Beside Babe's rant the other chapter, none of this bad publicity is affecting Heller at all. He isn't being jeered by passersby, or questioned by classmates, or thwarted in his attempts to further his mission (if only because he hasn't really been working on it lately). This lawsuit is between the wrong university and a "lookalike" that looks nothing like him and who is now operating under the wrong name. If Heller got his hands on a fake ID he'd be right as rain.
The chapter ends on an ominous note, as Gris tells us "that very night, my attention was rudely snapped in another direction." It's been a while since we've had an action scene, yeah?
Back to Part Thirty, Chapter Nine